On Wednesday, Google gave people a clearer picture of its secret initiative called Project Glass. The glasses are the company’s first venture into wearable computing. […]
One person who had used the glasses said: “They let technology get out of your way. If I want to take a picture I don’t have to reach into my pocket and take out my phone; I just press a button at the top of the glasses and that’s it.”
The current Glass prototypes look kind of ridiculous, but the vision for this market is massive. Wearable/embedded computing is, obviously, the post-post-PC world. It's just going to take a very long time to get there. Watch this incredible video Google released today; it's certainly enticing:
But what's the point of creating a “secret” laboratory, where “where engineers and scientists are working on robots and space elevators,” when your early prototypes are leaked to the New York Times? Why develop these transformative technologies in public? If you call something secret, and it's not secret, I think of three possibilities: either you are not being genuine, you suck at secrecy, or you don't believe in the project enough that you'd call its developments trade secrets.
Anyway, these wearable computers are awesome, I want one, and I'm glad Google is spending the time and money to research them.
Last night, after I posted a screenshot of Groupon's stock price from my iPad, some people asked me which app I was using. It's actually my favorite iOS app, StockTouch.
After I wake up every morning, I grab my iPad and open StockTouch. The first screen I see is an overview of the top 900 US stocks by market cap, split by sector:
This is an incredibly powerful data visualization; it gives an at-a-glance view of the entire market's health. It also facilitates quick exploration. Touching a sector zooms in to just those companies:
And touching a stock zooms in to the company overview:
The UI is gesture-based, so it's easy to quickly pan around and get a feel for what is going on with the market at any given interval. You can also change the ordering of the companies in each sector box (I sort by market cap, but you can also sort by percentage change or by comparison against the overall S&P index).
It's such a well-made app. If you're interested in the stock market, the health of industries, or in UI design, you absolutely should buy it. It's well worth the $4.99.
Insects have a heart, sometimes, but no arteries or veins. They have an open circulatory system: all their organs just float in a goo called “hemolymph” that is a combination of lymph and blood. Some insects, bees included, have a heart and an aorta (the vessel leading out of the heart) that pumps the blood and gives it some semblance of direction (from the back of the insect to the front), but beyond that there is no circulatory system. The heart floats in the hemolymph along with everything else. No way to stop it from receiving blood flow, because it's surrounded by it.
[…] Management concluded as of December 31, 2011 that our disclosure controls and procedures were not effective at the reasonable assurance level due to a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting […]
This is actually the second time Groupon has had to revise its earnings; after their S-1 (the IPO prospectus) was first filed with bizarre accounting procedures, the company was forced to make considerable revisions.
Heroes become super by virtue of their actions. They do great things. They perform heroic acts. And then, when the honor is bestowed upon them by some shared consciousness, they become superheroes. The super- prefix is one that is earned, not given. It is a trophy. No superhero has ever become a superhero by calling himself a superhero.
Villains, however, are different. Because people are assumed to be good by default, villains must consciously decide to deviate into villainy. No villain has ever accidentally become a villain. Villainous acts are performed with the full intention of achieving an end goal that satisfies ego, greed, lust, or the desire for power. Sometimes those goals align with universally positive outcomes, and, though they should always be seen through the lens of skepticism, villains are not bad without exception. Actions that appear evil can often be used to achieve noble end goals. In fact, in many situations, “evil” is a required ingredient for the manufacture of success. Villains are often misunderstood superheroes.
Responsibility vs. Power
The biggest benefit to villainy is that it provides far more potential for doing good than heroism. Unlike superheroes, villains are not beholden to the requirements of their position. Villains define their own situations, while superheroes work against very strict, and very public, rubrics for doing good. This difference gives villains the ability to achieve goals on their own terms. It gives them the freedom to be creative and to push boundaries. While superheroes have responsibility, villains have power. Superheroes are handcuffed by conformity. Villains are liberated by absolute power.
The downside to all of this is that villains play a fragile game. With power comes moral corruptibility, and with corruptibility comes unpopularity–maybe even hatred–from society. But as long as villains can hold themselves back from corruption, they can do great things. Villains must be strong. A villain's only responsibility is to protect what he symbolizes. In the absence of a responsibility to the public, a villain must fight against his primal instincts.
The fight against apathy
The differences between superheros and villains are not very important. When distilled, both are just symbols. Bruce Wayne put it best:
People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and I can't do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man, I'm flesh and blood. I can be ignored. I can be destroyed. But as a symbol, as a symbol, I can be incorruptible. I can be everlasting.
No matter what morality drives the motivation, symbols represent philosophies that cannot be destroyed. Villains and superheroes are not people. They have no faces. Against their inner struggles, they take up causes in the fight against apathy. They are symbols, everlasting.
On Thursday evening a week ago, Bombay/6 Ave.—unprovoked, and without warning—cut its pizza price to 79 cents. The next morning, 2 Bros. retaliated by moving to 75 cents (its owners felt it was easier to make change from a dollar than at 79 cents). Bombay/6 Ave. matched the 75 cents, and that’s where everything sits.
Clearly, a slice of pizza cannot be sold profitably in Manhattan for $0.75. The price is an unsustainable gesture. Something has to give. It's going to be fascinating to watch the story unfold.
See also: The term used in biology to describe this evolutionary principle (as it manifests itself in ecosystems) is punctuated equilibrium and the term describing the effect in economics is called the Bertrand Paradox.
Revenue for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 was $4.2 billion [ … ], down 25% from $5.6 billion in the same quarter of fiscal 2011.
A quarter of RIM's business has been wiped out in just one year. Net income (profit) is even worse (you can ignore the word “GAAP”):
The Company’s GAAP net loss for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2012 was $125 million [ … compared with] GAAP net income of $934 million, or $1.78 per share diluted, in the same quarter of fiscal 2011.
That's a billion dollar swing towards the negative in just one year. It's hard to comprehend that kind of change, especially considering that RIM hasn't done much to stop it.
In a ridiculously worded sentence, RIM reported that both its CTO and COO are leaving the company:
In addition, David Yach will be retiring from his role as CTO, Software after 13 years with the Company and after 4 years with the company and following an open dialogue on the future of global operations, Jim Rowan, COO, Global Operations, has decided to pursue other interests.
There are two possibilities for these departures: either the departing people do not have faith in the new CEO, or the new CEO has no faith in them. I am hoping for the latter.
Jim Balsillie, RIM's former co-CEO, has also resigned from the board of directors.
Newly appointed CEO Thorsten Heins included a note with the results indicating that the company has finally come to terms with its perdicament:
“I did my own reality check on where the entire company really is,” he said during a conference call with analysts. “It is now very clear to me that substantial change is what RIM needs.”
I have assessed many aspects of RIM's business during my first 10 weeks as CEO. I have confirmed that the Company has substantial strengths that can be further leveraged to improve our financial performance, including RIM's global network infrastructure, a strong enterprise offering and a large and growing base of more than 77 million subscribers. I'm very excited about the prospects for the BlackBerry 10 platform, which is on track for the latter part of calendar 2012. Notwithstanding these strengths and opportunities, the business challenges we face over the next several quarters are significant and I am taking the necessary steps to address them.
After quarter after quarter of denial and absurd statements of grandeur, it's nice to finally see some honest statements, even if they are shrouded in buzzwords and complex grammatical structure.
The future for RIM is not bright.
DISCLOSURE: I have positions in the following companies mentioned in this article: RIM.
Amazon is selling its refurbished Kindle Fire for just $139, a huge discount from the normal price of $199. This large price cut, as we are nearing the middle of Amazon's second quarter, is suspicious. I find it difficult to believe that Amazon is making any profit at this price point. With the iPad now starting at $399, the Fire is a ridiculous choice for anyone except the most price-conscious.
I've had a Fire since it was released a few months ago. While it is the best Android tablet I've used, by far, it is still basically piece of junk. The screen is extremely wide, but it is not cinematic; it makes web browsing awkward. Scrolling performance is terrible. Amazon Prime videos, Netflix and Hulu work great, but nothing else on the device does, unfortunately.
Google has been working on its self-driving cars for a couple of years, and they have finally reached a point where they can test with real users. They recorded a video of their first test, with Steve Mahan, a man who has lost more than 95% of his vision in both eyes, making him well beyond legally blind.
This video is a glimpse into the future.
I was skeptical of the ability of cars to drive themselves, but Google seems to be making it entirely possible. In fifty years, I bet we'll look back and think about how barbaric it was for people drive themselves.
As is usually the case, Eriksen worked “the box”—the computer—using Avid’s Pro Tools editing program, while Hermansen critiqued the playbacks. Small colored rectangles, representing bits of Dean’s vocal, glowed on the computer screen, and Eriksen chopped and rearranged them, his fingers flying over the keys, frequently punching the space bar to listen to a playback, then rearranging some more. The studio’s sixty-four-channel professional mixing board, with its vast array of knobs and lights, which was installed when Roc the Mic Studios was constructed, only five years ago, sat idle, a relic of another age.
Fascinating and extremely well written. Definitely worth the read.